Alcoholism Kills News From the Late 1990’s

Drunks Still Get Their Drinks

‘Intoxicated’ patrons offered alcohol two-thirds of time, study shows
By Nancy A. Melville
HealthSCOUT Reporter

SATURDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthSCOUT) — Problem drinkers who don’t know when to say “when” can’t count on those serving them alcohol to cut them off, a new study concludes.
In looking at how often alcohol servers offer drinks to people already intoxicated — a violation of law in most states, University of Minnesota researchers found that more than two-thirds of establishments surveyed continued to serve alcohol to men who appeared to be severely inebriated.

The “drunks” were three men, ages 33, 34 and 44, who were recruited to act intoxicated and go into 24 Minnesota bars on 68 occasions on a drink-buying mission. They were denied entrance five times and denied drinks once in 20 times. But they were served drinks 43 times and were even allowed a second drink 23 times.
In taking the study to a much broader level involving 336 bars, restaurants, liquor and grocery stores, the researchers found that 79 percent of establishments sold alcohol to buyers who showed obvious signs of drunkenness.

“We found the results to be disturbing,” says Alexander Wagenaar, professor of public health at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and principal investigator of the study. “It’s not a case of one or two bad apples or even a third — it’s the overwhelming majority of outlets that are just blatantly violating the law by not paying attention when someone is intoxicated.”

Wagenaar says many of the servers didn’t even look at the patrons when taking their orders and may not have noticed their demeanor. In other cases, the servers recognized the men were apparently drunk and would state, “I’ll just give you one,” or, “Have you been drinking all day?”
The results show a pressing need for action by both law enforcement officials and alcohol sellers, Wagenaar says. “Local and state liquor law enforcement officials need to pay more attention to enforcing this law.”

But encouraging compliance is likely to be an uphill fight, Wagenaar says. “We’re looking into methods of deterrence, but I think the problem here is that people realize they have almost no chance of getting caught.”

Brad Fralick, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Illinois, says a big part of the problem is that even if tavern owners get caught, the fine is too small to make a difference.

“If you have a state where there’s a very big liability for the tavern owner in the case of a drunken-driving crash, it’s much more of a deterrent. Having a possibly huge settlement in a lawsuit hanging over their head is a much bigger deterrent than getting a small fine from an officer,” he says.
Nearly 40 percent of the nation’s 41,471 traffic fatalities in 1998 were alcohol-related, according to federal statistics.


Daly says he’s drinking to improve his golf
By Doug Ferguson
Associated Press
September 30 5:56pm ET

PINE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — The eve of the Buick Challenge was a typical night for John Daly ever since he decided once again that happiness on the
golf course depends largely on whether he can get a drink. “I had four Miller Lites and a big chimichanga,” Daly said Thursday. In his lifelong battle against alcoholism, this night was a draw.Daly”I don’t want to quit drinking,” he said. “I just don’t want to get

Daly was all smiles Thursday at Callaway Gardens. Grossly overweight in olive-colored pants that bagged around his ankles, he went through at
least one cigarette per hole, signed autographs during his round of even-par 72 and then headed out to the driving range.

He says he is free again, no longer bound by his contract with his main sponsor, Callaway Golf, that required him to stay off the bottle and out
of casinos. He says he wants to play like the slugger who won the PGA Championship and British Open.

What Daly cannot say is whether another night awaits like the one in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., two years ago, when he poured down shots and
ripped up his hotel room in a drunken rage. “You never know with me,” Daly said bluntly.

In life, much like with his golf, there are no guarantees with Daly. “I don’t know what to think,” said Jay Haas, one of several PGA Tour
peers confused by Daly’s return to drinking. “I suppose past history shows he shouldn’t be doing what he’s doing. Whether he can handle it
this time remains to be seen.”

Daly’s latest attempt to stay sober ended after a 26-month run that cost him his Callaway contract when he refused to go back to a rehab center
for the third time. From a business standpoint, Daly said he regrets parting ways with 80-year-old founder Ely Callaway, who is a distant relative to the
Callaway clan that developed the plush resort where the Buick Challenge is being played this week.

Daly, a former University of Arkansas golfer, turned his back on about $3 million, but he said maybe that’s for the best.

“I think Mr. C. made it too easy for me,” he said. “The money was too good and I didn’t practice hard enough. It’s going to make me hungry,
that money not coming in like it was. We’ve got great purses. There’s a ton of money out there, and it’s time for me to earn my money again.”

Besides, Daly said he finally reached the conclusion that drinking is part of his life. “It’s in my blood,” is the chilling phrase he told
Golf World magazine.

Daly said he came to a crossroads and took a long, hard look in both directions. “It was either golf and drinking, or no golf and no drinking,” he said.
“I made a decision to keep playing golf. This is what I do. This is my talent.”

And the drinking, Daly told himself, is part of the package.

“I could give up the game and probably stay sober and do speeches and stuff,” he said. “It would be a hell of a lot easier because I’d be out of the spotlight and out of the game. But I can’t do both. There ain’t no way.”

There is not much to suggest Daly, who started drinking when he was 8, can control his drinking this time around.

He won the British Open sober in 1995, started “social drinking” a year later and then lost control that night in Jacksonville Beach during The
Players Championship, a binge that led to divorce.

“I think sometimes, you can control alcohol,” Daly said. “And for everybody who has ever been there and gotten really drunk, there are
certain times in their lives that they don’t think alcohol does take over. It’s not a good feeling when you can barely walk, or laying by a

Daly admits that pressure to stay sober helped drive him to drink again. He said he was trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations, and
“you can’t make somebody do something they don’t want to do.” “I’m 33 years old,” he said. “It’s a decision I have to make.”

Still, he envisions the day when he no longer has a craving for a drink. A statement two weeks ago on his Web site — –aid
his commitment to live a sober life remains strong.

When will that day come? Daly could only shrug. “It’s still one day at a time,” he said.


Alcohol, pills linked to death of actor’s wife
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Final autopsy results show that Nerine Shatner, the wife of “Star Trek” star William Shatner, had been drinking heavily and taking sleeping pills the night she died in the swimming pool of her home.
The former model and aspiring actress, who had two drunken-driving convictions and had been treated several times for alcoholism, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.27 percent, more than three times the legal limit for driving, said the autopsy released Tuesday.
Authorities believe Nerine Shatner dived into her swimming pool, slammed her head on the pool bottom and drowned. The autopsy report said she had bruises on her face and two cracked neck vertebrae consistent with banging her head on the pool bottom.
The findings help explain what happened Aug. 9 when William Shatner returned to his hillside mansion and found his wife naked at the bottom of their pool.
The autopsy supports authorities’ initial belief that Nerine Shatner drowned, said detective Mike Coffey.


Sponsor dumps Daly over drinking

September 16, 1999

John Daly, whose life has been as wild as some of his massive drives, lost his top sponsor Wednesday when Callaway Golf said he had resumed drinking and gambling and tore up his contract when he refused help. “We care a great deal about John as a person, a golfer and a friend,” said Ely Callaway, the company’s 80-year-old chairman. “Regrettably, we cannot continue to have John as a company representative when he is not prepared to take the future steps that we feel are necessary to deal with the alcohol and gambling problems facing him.”

When the former PGA and British Open champion completed alcohol rehabilitation two years ago, he found a “father figure” in Callaway, who offered him a second chance.
Callaway declined to say when or where Daly started drinking again, only that it was confirmed by company employees. Daly couldn’t be reached for comment. His agent, John Mascatello, referred questions to a statement that had been posted on Daly’s Web site–

It said: “My commitment to live a sober life remains strong. Alcoholism is a disease which will continue to challenge me the rest of my life. I accept the difficulties presented and hope that I will overcome whatever obstacles I face.” One source said Daly first denied drinking when confronted by Callaway. Callaway offered to pay for him to see a national expert on addictions. The source, who spoke on condition he not be identified, said Daly went as far as the front door of the clinic before turning around.

“He’s going to AA meetings every day,” another source said. “He didn’t feel like inpatient treatment would be any different the third time around.”



September 2, 1999



IT WASN’T until the final minutes of Darryl Strawberry’s press conference yesterday afternoon at Yankee Stadium that he finally owned up to where the blame belongs for what happened in Tampa on April 14. Until then, he had told us his feelings of hopelessness over not making the Yankees’ opening-day roster had triggered a return to drinking and his ultimate arrest on solicitation and drug-possession charges. He also told us how not going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings had opened the door to his relapse and how battling colon cancer and losing his spiritual peace were all factors as well. But when it comes right down to it, there is only one place to lay the blame for why Strawberry dressed in pinstripes about five months later than expected: at Strawberry’s feet. “This time around, when I looked in the mirror, I looked at the enemy and it was me,” he said. “No one told me to pick up that drink. But that’s the disease of alcoholism.”

We heard a lot about the importance of recovery yesterday from Strawberry. We heard about how going to AA meetings and finding a spiritual peace are critical, too. “If I’m not participating in my recovery, I’m going to drink,” he said. “Basically, that’s what happened to me.” There was little mention of baseball or what impact he might have on the Yankees’ final month of the regular season or even the playoffs. Truth is, baseball is a secondary issue in Strawberry’s life, which is the way it should have been all along. I am not a recovering alcoholic, so I won’t pretend to know the depth of Strawberry’s depression last spring. But it is clear that he put too much emphasis on baseball and wanting to show people that he could make it back from colon cancer. He is a professional athlete, and athletes are usually full of pride. It’s what makes them excel and drives their motor. They are taught to conquer adversity. “I’m athletic and sometimes athletes have a hard time dealing with putting extra pressure on themselves because they think they can go and not stop and take care of themselves,” he said. “I wish I had taken care of myself a little better.”

Strawberry became a victim of that culture, basing his worth, and ultimately his health, reputation and livelihood, on whether he was part of the team when it left Legends Field. That was a mistake. A terrible mistake. “When I didn’t make the team out of spring training and was left back in Florida, it was very difficult for me to deal with myself,” Strawberry said. “I really didn’t like myself, because I felt like I had worked so hard to get back in shape after going through the surgery for cancer. I felt like was going to come back and make the point that I was able to be strong enough and play. When that didn’t happen, I suffered a lot, self-inflicted suffering.” The best thing we heard from Strawberry yesterday is that baseball doesn’t mean that much anymore. Nothing, he says, is more important than his life. Truth is, Strawberry is likely to be more spectator than participant with the Yankees. Ricky Ledee has solidified the left-field position and Chili Davis has been a productive designated hitter. “It’s really not important for me to play,” Strawberry said. “I know I can play, but it’s not that big of deal if I do or I don’t.” Strawberry seems cool with his uncertain future, even joking about being a September call-up for the first time in his career. His smiles showed he was genuinely glad to be back with his friends and teammates. “It’s a gift to be able to make it back and I accept that gift,” he said. “No matter what pains I may face, I can’t allow myself not to go to meetings anymore.”

This latest chapter in Strawberry’s life isn’t about what he does on the playing field for his teammates or manager, but what he does for himself. He began to drink last spring because he felt baseball let him down. He had used his return as proof he had beaten cancer. Now Strawberry knows his real opponent wasn’t cancer or baseball, but himself. “To me, it doesn’t have anything to do with putting on a baseball uniform,” he said. “It has to do with me living as a person and suffering through alcoholism. I’m not the only one that’s in the limelight where you struggle and deal with it. “Some of us make it, some of us don’t. Some of us have to die; and some of us have to make it to help others. Some of us have to stand and not quit and let others know that you can make it no matter what battle you have to face and what battle we have to go through. Maybe it takes a message for someone like me to be able to carry.” To debate whether Strawberry deserves a second chance is ridiculous. He is a baseball player with a home-run stroke. As long as he has skills and is trying to get his life together, he deserves a job the same as a lawyer, an accountant or a sports writer. The hope here is that Strawberry understands he has nothing to prove to media, fans, The Boss or his teammates. The only person Strawberry can blame for his success or failure is himself.


August 19, 1999


“I fought to save my wife from alcoholism – but I failed.”


William Shatner told his booze-addicted wife, Nerine, he was dumping her – just days before she tragically drowned in their swimming pool. In a copyrighted interview in next week’s National Enquirer, a teary-eyed Shatner laments: “I fought and fought to save my wife from the serpent of alcoholism – but I failed. “Nerine’s own psychiatrist told me that, for her own good, I should divorce her … [He] said, ‘If you love her, you have to leave her.’ ” Cops have called Nerine’s death an “accidental drowning” – but believe alcohol played a part and are waiting for coroner’s tests to confirm that theory. The man who rocketed to fame as Capt. James T. Kirk on “Star Trek” tells the Enquirer he almost didn’t wed his third wife in 1997 because of her endless bouts with the bottle. But he relented after the gorgeous blond ex-model begged: “Marry me and help me – help me beat my addiction.”

At first, Nerine – who’d done two jail stints for drunken driving – tried to go cold turkey by taking pills that made her sick if she drank. “But after eight weeks … she began secretly substituting the … pill with another white pill and then began drinking again,” Shatner, 68, tells the Enquirer. “Nerine would hide bottles of alcohol all around the house where I couldn’t find them, and even hide her vodka in water bottles.” After Shatner filed for divorce to try to shock her into sobering up, she entered rehab twice – including once at the Betty Ford Clinic. But the boozing started again. “Nerine begged for us to have a baby … I told her we could not until she proved she could stay sober for six months,” he tells the tabloid. Nerine, 40, became “so paranoid from her drinking that she was accusing me of seeing other women,” Shatner said.
A psychiatrist told the star the only way to save his wife was to leave her in a “tough love” move and, for the second time, just days before she died, Shatner told her they were through. On the night before she died, the couple went to a restaurant where Nerine secretly ordered vodka she insisted was cranberry juice, Shatner claims. Later, Nerine asked to stop for “milk and eggs” but bought booze instead, hiding it from him under her clothes, Shatner says. “Just minutes later, she came up the stairs drunk. She had chugged the entire bottle,” Shatner recalls. The next day, the couple was set to visit Shatner’s daughter, Leslie, but “I told Nerine I didn’t want her around children in that condition.” “Tell Leslie I love her, and tell her I found God,” Nerine said to Shatner – the last time he saw her alive.
When Shatner called the house that afternoon, “I told her on the phone, ‘If you stay sober, I’ll take you horseback-riding tomorrow.’ By lunch, the housekeeper told me that Nerine was lying drunk in bed.” When he found her in the pool that night and pulled her out, he says, “[I] tried to pry open her mouth, but it was rigid. I knew my dear Nerine was gone!”


August 15, 1999

Congressman who battles addiction takes fight to Washington for others
Copyright © 1999 Nando Media
Copyright © 1999 Scripps McClatchy Western Service

From Time to Time: Nando’s in-depth look at the 20th century.
By TOM HAMBURGER, Nando Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 15, 1999 12:13 a.m. EDT – Eighteen years ago, Minnesota Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad was in jail in Sioux Falls, S.D., on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The experience of waking up disheveled and bewildered in jail provided a profound wake up call to an ambitious young state senator. Ultimately, it would lead to treatment for a drinking habit that had plagued him since he was a senior at the University of Minnesota. That in turn led him to a supportive community of recovering alcoholics, an introduction to an inspirational figure, former Iowa Democratic Sen. Harold Hughes — and a determination to give back by helping others. Ramstad is known in Washington as a moderate Republican who advocates tax breaks on the Ways and Means Committee, restructuring of Medicare expenditures issues and free trade. But in the addiction and recovery community he is a giant. Hughes is now dead as is Missouri Congressman Bill Emerson, who also talked openly about battling alcoholism. That has left Ramstad as the American public official who speaks about addiction most openly and — as a recovering addict — most credibly. “He is the beacon,” said William Cope Moyers, vice president for public affairs at the not-for-profit Hazelden Foundation, a treatment center. Two years ago, he joined with Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., to author legislation to require insurance companies to pay for addiction treatment as they pay for treatment of any other disease. He and Wellstone have disagreed recently about whether that legislation should cover methadone treatment for heroine addiction. But the two are determined to push forward this year.

This legislative activism has received fairly wide attention. Less well known are the ways in which recovery influences Ramstad and those around him, every day. You can spot it in his schedule even during the week when he has committed to join the media blitzkrieg on behalf of Republican tax cut proposal. Ramstad spent several hours at a suburban “Sobriety High School” talking with teens who are struggling with addiction. Not long ago, he visited Turning Point, a similar facility in Minneapolis. Over the July 4th recess, he went to the state juvenile facility at Red Wing talking with individuals and small groups about addiction. Ramstad’s staff sees the commitment on the congressman’s call list, which could include — in addition to a typical roster of House Republicans — former First Lady Betty Ford, former South Dakota Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate George McGovern, whose late daughter was addicted to drugs and alcohol. A typical call list might be punctuated with a former inmate from Red Wing, a top elected official or a federal judge. Frequently, says Ramstad, the callers are “terrified” that their problem will be discovered, their careers ruined.

Moyers confirms this. Every month or so, he’ll get a call from Ramstad seeking confidential assistance at Hazelden for someone who has contacted him. In one case that someone was the child of a member of the United States Senate. In another, a member of the U.S. House. Other occasions he seeks help for citizens, previously unknown to Ramstad, who call knowing their plight will receive a sympathetic ear. They come from across the country. “He calls out of the blue, usually on the cell phone, usually on the run,” Moyers said. Moyers, like McGovern and Betty Ford are working with Ramstad to pass the treatment parity legislation. But, says Moyers, “It’s what Jim does outside the political arena that makes the most difference.” Doctor Ron Smith, a Navy psychiatrist agrees. “When Jim Ramstad or Betty Ford talk about alcoholism every alcoholic moves up a bit because it removes some of the stigma,” said Smith, former director of the U.S. Navy addiction program that treated Betty Ford, former Sen. Herman Talmadge of Georgia, former first brother Billy Carter and astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Smith calls on Ramstad every week to help admirals, lobbyists and members of Congress with recovery. And it’s not just the top brass. Smith recalls going with Ramstad to churches in Washington where the congressman met with ordinary citizens struggling with addiction, sitting with them for coffee and offering support. Ramstad regularly goes to night classes at Catholic University to help social workers in training them to recognize addiction. The stories do not surprise the Rev. Bill Albertson, former pastor at the Wayzata Community Church in Ramstad’s district. When Ramstad was a state senator in St. Paul in the 1980s, Albertson would call him when he needed help intervening with an individual who needed to be convinced go to treatment. Appearances by accomplished individuals — particularly to a group of addicts — has a profound effect, Smith says. “It is much more more powerful than a physician making a diagnosis,” says Smith. “If someone who has the disease can see someone they admire and respect discuss it, they identify and then have hope of recovery. Listening to Jim Ramstad talk about his experiences, you can come to see the power of recovery.”
An even better known Republican, Gov. George W. Bush, has discussed his trouble with alcohol and his decision, the day after his 40th birthday, to quit drinking. But Bush’s example does not resonate in the treatment community, because he does not describe himself as addicted. “That’s great for George W., that he woke up one morning and stopped drinking,” says Moyers. “But he is not an advocate for treatment and he has had very little if anything to say about the disease of addiction.”
Ramstad, Moyers says, casts a giant shadow because he had to admit the full depth of his problem and that he needed help to overcome it. Like many alcoholics, Ramstad denied his problem for a long time. He didn’t drink during the week, while engaged in legislative business in St. Paul. But on the weekends — away from his constituents — he would engage in “binge drinking” that included boisterous behavior and frequent blackouts.

On July 31, 1981 Ramstad woke up in jail. “I was petrified,” Ramstad recalls. “I didn’t know if I had driven a car and killed someone. I didn’t know what happened. The last thing I remembered was being in a bar…” A combination of that fear, combined with the knowledge that a young state senator’s career faced ruin, led Ramstad that day to confront his behavior and his alcoholism. Today he defines himself by that experience and by helping others to avoid it. The help, he says, is part of his own recovery process. He brushes away the suggestion by Moyers and others that he has now assumed the stature of former Sen. Hughes who first led the charge toward insurance parity — and inspired millions. “I certainly don’t think of myself as any kind of hero,” says Ramstad. “I am just another recovering alcoholic trying to help others still suffering from the disease of addiction.”


August 15, 1999

The Blade – Toledo, Ohio

Strawberry recovery tour hits Toledo

August 10, 1999BY BLADE SPORTS WRITER Darryl Strawberry, the troubled New York Yankee who has had problems with his health, drugs, alcohol and the law, brings his most recent comeback tour to Toledo tonight. Strawberry is expected to be in the lineup for the Columbus Clippers, the Yankees’ top farm team, when they play the Mud Hens at 7 at Skeldon Stadium.
Strawberry joined the Clippers about a week ago after Major League Baseball reduced his suspension over an arrest on solicitation of a prostitute and drug charges. He is also recovering from colon-cancer surgery that sidelined him last season, and his most recent bout with alcoholism, which he said put him on the path to the drug arrest.
“The main thing I’m focused on is my health and my alcoholism,” Strawberry said on his return. “That’s the most important thing in my life. I don’t care if I ever play baseball again.”
He has played it rather well during his week in Triple-A, and brings a .350 average to Toledo tonight. Strawberry has split his time with the Clippers between the designated hitter role and playing in the outfield. He has seven hits, including a double, and has driven in four runs. He has also walked twice and struck out three times.
The Yankees have not announced a timetable for getting him back in the lineup with the defending World Series champs, but Strawberry said he is in good shape.
Strawberry had been working out at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla., before joining the Clippers. “I feel really good,” said Strawberry, a six-time All-Star during his National League days. “It feels real good to be back in the uniform.” The Hens will likely see Strawberry again tomorrow and Thursday when they play at Columbus.

August 9, 1999Bush defuses alcohol issue, sidesteps drug rumor

David J. Phillip / Associated Press
Texas Gov. George W. Bush tried to seize control of the alcohol issue early in his campaign by talking about his “irresponsible youth.”
By Deb Price / Detroit News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — What’s the difference between heavy drinking and alcoholism? Quite possibly the White House, judging by Republican George W. Bush’s delicate handling of his past drinking. The Texas governor has been remarkably open, especially in recent weeks, about his decision to stop drinking 13 years ago. So far, poll numbers suggest that Bush has defused a story that pundits once predicted could be his undoing. “This is the confessional age — people enjoy this,” says Larry Sabato, author of Feeding Frenzy, a study of the media’s hunger for scandal. “It’s ‘Oprah!’ People want to see candidates admit their flaws.” Bush has said he drank “too much” in the past, but was not “clinically an alcoholic.” In contrast, he has refused to deny repeated rumors of past cocaine use. Many analysts feel that strategy raises red flags — and that Bush could be damaged later should something come out because he didn’t address it as forthrightly as he has his drinking.

Bush is heading into uncharted presidential campaign waters by testing the public’s willingness to accept a claim of recovery from excessive drinking. It’s too early to know how Bush’s admission will play out — whether it will be perceived as a dangerous flaw or as a sign of strength. However, recent polls show that voters think they have a right to know about candidates’ drinking histories and express some wariness about electing a reformed heavy drinker president. Bush’s decision to characterize his own past actions for voters rewarded him with two terms in the Texas governor’s mansion — the first time unseating Ann Richards, herself a recovering alcoholic. Now Bush is taking his strategy national. “It sounds like Gov. Bush saw he was headed in the wrong direction and nipped it in the bud,” says Claudine Manchester, 34, a Harper Woods homemaker who likely will vote for him. Not one drop’Bush says he stopped drinking by turning to God. In comments to the Washington Post last month, Bush said he didn’t drink during daytime, never attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and doesn’t believe he was “clinically an alcoholic.” He says he hasn’t had a “drop of alcohol” since a hangover after his 40th birthday party in 1986. That Bush, now 53, stopped so many years ago impresses Dave Brown, a Southgate teacher. “Say it was 1996 (that Bush stopped drinking). Then I would say there hasn’t been enough time, that it’d be easier to fall off the wagon,” said Brown, 34, a Republican who’s torn between Bush and Elizabeth Dole. But Helen Gerner, 80, a retiree from Warren, says she’d hesitate to vote for a presidential candidate who acknowledged excessive drinking in the past because stress could “push them over.” Gerner, an independent voter, said past cocaine use “would be more troublesome to me as a voter than if a candidate had used marijuana. It’s a more serious drug.” Brown and Gerner are not alone in feeling that the public has a right to know about candidates’ drinking histories, 1999 polls show:

Sixty percent of adults polled say a presidential candidate should have to answer questions about “whether they had an alcohol problem in the past.” Thirty-eight percent said they should not. Sixty-eight percent say a past drinking problem shouldn’t disqualify a presidential candidate, vs. 26 percent who said it should. Unanswered questions “You can’t hide anything anymore, so you might as well take the lead and deal with it,” says Stephen Wayne, author of The Road to the White House. Wayne thinks Bush has framed any discussion about his past drinking in the most favorable light, particularly with religious conservatives.”He’s trying to show that he’s in control of this and he was able to do it on his own,” he says. “… And that the only dependency here is one that is politically acceptable — that is on God.” State Sen. Mat Dunaskiss, R-Lake Orion, reflecting on his own past drinking problem, predicts voters will respect Bush’s turnaround.
“A person who has gone through struggles will be seen as having stronger beliefs and depths,” says Dunaskiss, who acknowledged a drinking problem in 1997, was re-elected, and is open about his AA membership. But Mark Guerrieri, a University of Michigan political scientist, thinks GOP rivals will raise Bush’s past drinking — and drug use rumors — to try to cut into his huge lead. Guerrieri argues that Bush’s effort to distinguish his drinking from “clinical alcoholism” “sounds a lot like, I didn’t inhale,’ ” a reference to Bill Clinton’s much-ridiculed word games in the 1992 campaign over marijuana use. Bush’s openness may keep potentially embarrassing details from being disclosed. However, his refusal to deny drug use has created its own frenzy, expert Sabato notes, with reporters madly searching for sources to confirm gossip.

The cocaine whispers are so widespread that the Wall Street Journal published a front-page story May 14 about them, headlined “Behind the Rumors About George W. Bush Is a Culture of Gossip.” Bush’s sidestepping of questions about cocaine rumors has fueled talk, articles and editorials, and even an unflattering cartoon portrait in Doonesbury, the Journal noted. “If reporters get evidence about past drug use, he will pay dearly for evading,” Sabato says. “The public makes a distinction. Drinking, while bad, is on this side of OK. Drugs are not.”

‘Not an alcoholic,’ Texas governor says

George W. Bush began talking about “his irresponsible youth” during his 1994 gubernatorial campaign in Texas. He was quoted extensively in a July 25 Washington Post interview about his decision to stop drinking in 1986. Here’s what he said:

Why he stopped drinking:
“I realized that alcohol was beginning to crowd out my energies and could crowd, eventually, my affections for other people.”
On alcoholism:
“I don’t think I was clinically an alcoholic. I didn’t have the genuine addiction. I don’t know why I drank. I liked to drink, I guess.”

What would happen if he drank:
“I’d probably say foolish things.”
His spirituality:
“I accepted Christ. If you become more spiritual, you begin to realize the effect of alcohol overconsuming because it begins to drown the spirit.”
Questions about cocaine use:
“I’m not going to talk about what I did years ago. … I made mistakes. I’ve asked people to not let the rumors get in the way of the facts. I’ve told people I’ve learned from my mistakes — and I have.”
Copyright 1999, The Detroit News

Please post your opinion in the discussion group.

May 20, 1999Andy Dick Charged

Andy Dick’s bad week continues.
Dick, arrested earlier this week after crashing his car into a utility pole, was charged Wednesday with drug possession and driving under the influence.
The 33-year-old actor allegedly fled the scene of the May 16 accident, and was charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana, possession of a smoking device, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and hit-and-run driving.

The actor, who played Matthew on the just-cancelled NBC sitcom NewsRadio, has been free on $10,000 bail since his arrest. He is due in court May 25 to enter a plea to the charges. Dick, known for his physical comedy and sarcastic wit, was driving through an affluent section of Los Angeles when the accident occurred. According to police, Dick struck the utility pole with his car, then tried to flee the accident scene on foot. Witnesses caught and detained him until police arrived.
According to Dick’s publicist, the actor planned to check himself into a rehab center this week. Last year, he spent some time at the $500-per-night Promises center in Malibu.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Tuesday, January 19, 1999


I didn’t start drinking heavily until my 50s,” says Bettyjane Hilton, 71. But in 1980, her husband died and she turned to alcohol. One day four years later, she woke up in the locked ward of a Manhattan hospital near her Park Ave. home with no idea of how she got there.
“They said I had wanted to kill myself,” she says. “I was an accident waiting to happen. I went off the deep end when [my husband] died.”

Bettyjane Hilton now counsels problem drinkers.
Hilton spent 93 days there against her will — and tried repeatedly to break out. “The nurses had decided I might have been an alcoholic” and sent for a volunteer, she recalls. “This man came, he said, ‘My name is Kim, and I am an alcoholic, and I hear you might have a problem.’ I threw him out. He kept coming back.”

Eventually, Hilton attended 12-step program meetings and, after more time passed, admitted she was an alcoholic: “I realized I had been lying to myself.”
She found she was not alone. “Recently, there was a study of 9 million women who are senior citizens who are alcoholic, but only 10% of them are going to get help,” Hilton says. “It’s an epidemic.”

In the mid-1980s, Hilton was able to start putting her life back together. She had lost her home, other real estate and her husband’s company. She says, “I woke up one day and realized I wasn’t rich anymore.” But she was able to buy a small apartment and today counsels alcoholics and kids. “In some ways I am richer now than I was then, when I had everything, because a lot of people in this world care about me, I care about them,” Hilton says.

by Susan Ferraro

June 29, 1999


Solution to a ‘Real’ Problem
MTV brings on intervention
for boozing cast member
Daily News Staff Writer

Ruthie went to rehab. After several weeks of watching Ruthie — one of the new cast members on MTV’s reality-based soap opera — binge on booze, the show’s producers felt they had to get her some help.”The only time that the production staff will become involved in a cast member’s life is if their health and safety are in jeopardy,” said “Real World” supervising producer Matt Kunitz. “In Ruthie’s case, we did [get involved]. Later on in the series, you’ll see MTV producers step in and do an intervention. And you’ll see an intervention by her roommates, too.””Real World,” for the non-MTV crowd, is a video-verite series that throws together a group of young men and women and then chronicles their oft-chaotic lives for several months. The setting is different each season. This year’s version, in Hawaii, offers up its third episode tonight at 10. Ruthie, a 21-year-old native Hawaiian on leave from Rutgers University, was selected late in the casting process to round out the seven-member troupe for the show’s eighth season.Kunitz said they weren’t aware when they selected Ruthie that the drinking habit she downplayed during the interviewing process would surface within weeks as blatant alcoholism. “It was never our intention to put an alcoholic on the air,” said Kunitz. “There are a lot of interesting things about Ruthie, which is why we chose her.” But once producers realized she had a serious problem, he said, they decided to include Ruthie’s drinking as part of the story line.Ruthie’s problem became clear in the June 15 season premiere, when she landed in a hospital emergency room after a night of binging. In last week’s second episode, however, there was almost no mention of the ordeal Ruthie, and her roommates, went through days earlier.

While that omission left some viewers wondering if MTV was brushing off Ruthie’s behavior, that wasn’t the case. About three or four weeks into the four-month taping schedule that started in January, producers scouted out rehabilitation facilities, alcoholism addiction specialists and counseling programs for Ruthie, Kunitz said.When her roommates confronted her about her drinking, Ruthie went for counseling. But, “that didn’t solve the problem and she continued to exhibit unhealthy behavior,” said Kunitz.When the cast told producers they didn’t feel safe living with Ruthie any longer and wanted her to go into rehab, “we had already done the research and found a place for her.”And off she went, absent from the taping for the next 30 days. Viewers won’t see that happen right away, though. In tonight’s episode, Ruthie goes out drinking with roommate Kaia, and the two become romantically involved after getting drunk together.Ruthie apparently feels too much was made of her drinking. “I don’t think I’m an alcoholic at all,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “But the phase I went through in the show seems to look like I am. I got labeled. It’s not fair.” But lawyer, recovering alcoholic and “Real World” fan Kathleen Kettles-Russotti of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York praises MTV for monitoring Ruthie’s condition and eventually placing her in counseling.
“When you’re dealing with young adults who might not perceive their problem to be that dangerous, you need to point out the risks of their behavior and tell them to get counseling or treatment,” said Kettles-Russotti.